Easter 101

Last week, we featured an introduction to Passover. And now, as luck would have it, we have another religious holiday headed our way: Easter.The Last Supper - Da Vinci 1495-98

The religious history behind this holiday involves 40 days of Lenten fasting. It starts with Ash Wednesday (rung in with Fat Tuesday aka Mardi Gras). Then begins Lent, where Catholics are expected to give up something of excess and donate that extra money to the church. Likewise, meat should be avoided on Fridays–or all the time if you’re being super strict. Again, the idea is that meat is more expensive and that extra money goes to the church. Holy week time.

  • Palm Sunday: The Sunday that Jesus rides into Nazareth on a donkey and the people were so pumped that they laid down palm branches on the ground so that not even his donkey would touch the ground.
  • Holy Thursday: Last dinner with the apostles (this is what da Vinci painted). Jesus insists on washing the feet of his friends, then gives them bread and tells them to treat bread as a way to remember his flesh. Same thing happens with the wine except with blood instead of flesh. After everyone eats, Judas (one of the apostles) kisses Jesus as a way of informing the feds who he is. He gets paid 30 silver pieces but feels real bad about it later.
  • Good Friday: Jesus gets condemned for death as a heretic and someone likely to start a revolt. So he goes through the stations of the cross and dies from crucifixion. His friends and mother are sad and lay him in a tomb.
  • Black Saturday: Everyone is real sad about Jesus dying. Ok, well at least everyone who followed him is sad.
  • Easter Sunday: Two of Jesus’s friends go to see his body, but it’s not there!! There is, however, an angel who informs them that Jesus is alive. And with his death, he actually  defeated the devil, so now everyone who gets baptized can go to heaven.

So what does any of this have to do with a bunny that hides eggs?

Easter_Bunny_Postcard_1907

This is incredibly entertaining. So the medieval folk though bunnies were hermaphroditic, meaning that they could give birth without losing their virginity. This means they became associated with Jesus’s mother, the Virgin Mary. The egg thing is a little more confusing, but apparently around the 18th century a story was created that presented the Osterhase (translated as Easter Hare) as a spring-time Santa, who brings colored eggs to only the good children.

And Peeps? They need no explanation. They are perfect.

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